Blog posts about the art of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.

Dancing Girl Figurine

Three views of Mohenjo-daro artifact
The dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro in three views, with close-ups of face, choker and bangles. John Marshall writes of this figure: "the arms and legs . . . are adorned with armlets, bangles, and anklets. These ornaments may sometimes have been made of metal, but in all probability the majority of them were shell. The custom of wearing so many shell bracelets as almost to conceal the whole of the forearm is very common in India at the present day." (Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization, 1931, p. 339).

Women of Harappa A

Photographs by Richard H. Meadow
Image A:Two female figurines nursing infants found at Harappa. The female figurine usually holds the infant's head to her breast with one or both arms encircling the infant. LEFT: The female figurine usually holds the infant's head to her breast with one or both arms encircling the infant. The infants being nursed by female figurines are usually very schematically represented by a bent and pinched roll of clay with or without applied eyes. RIGHT: The head, body, and legs of the infant are usually pressed against the female’s breast and torso with the legs dangling or gripping the female’s

Reconstruction of Faience Tablet Manufacturing

Fully and partially glazed faience tablets and other fired objects could be examined after the fire had cooled and the canister opened during experimental firings at the University of Madison, Wisconsin. The steatite molds were also included in the canister to see how they would be affected by this type of firing. For more on this experiment, see Reconstruction of Tablet Manufacture and Manufacturing Faience Tablets.

Indus-style Boat

Found near Mohenjo-daro.
The nautical historian Basil Greenhill makes an interesting point about why this boat style may have endured on the Indus: "As for the punts [long, narrow, flat-bottomed boats, square at both ends and propelled with a long pole, used on inland waters chiefly for recreation], their silhouette bears perhaps some resemblance to that of the boat depicted in one of the two scribings of boats found at Moenjo Daro, the Indus civilization site which lies on the west side of the river roughly in the center of the long stretch of the Indus on which these boats are to be found today.

Shell Bangle Workshop in Gola Dhoro

Why was this shell bangle workshop suddenly abandoned in Gola Dhoro, Gujarat? Great wealth was left behind. Archaeologist Kuldeep Bhan writes: "One of the most important craft activities pursued with great vigor at the site was the production of shell bangles from Turbinella pyrum. One of the fascinating discoveries associated with this craft was the recovery of a rectangular mud brick structure measuring approximately 5.60 x 3.20m with an adjoining chamber, situated on the northwestern periphery inside the fortification.

Grand and Rare Zebu Bull Motif

The grand and rare humped zebu (bos indicus) motif on a pot from Nausharo (ca. 2600-2500 BCE) and on a square steatite seal from Mohenjo-daro (ca. 2500 BCE). Note how similar they are. The majestic zebu bull, with its heavy dewlap and wide curving horns is perhaps the most impressive motif found on the Indus seals. Generally carved on large seals with relatively short inscriptions, the zebu motif is found almost exclusively at the largest cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. The rarity of zebu seals is curious because the humped bull is a recurring theme in many of the ritual and decorative

Terra Cotta Tokens

Terra cotta tokens or tablets from Harappa. In Area G, south of the gateway on Mound ET, excavators found a concentration of as many as 31 identical cylindrical terracotta tablets (top center), but it is not known what they could have been used for. Concentrations of tablets recovered through recent excavations at Harappa indicate that these tablets become popular during the late part of Period 3B (2450 B.C.E.) and continue on into the final phase of the Harappan occupation, Period 3C (2200 to 1900 B.C.E.).